Lisbon is filled with new-wave Portuguese restaurants, but also many old establishments serving classic dishes, as well as several bars where you can try amazing finger food.
Some dishes, sweets and cakes, and even alcoholic drinks, are particularly popular in Lisbon, even though they can be sampled everywhere throughout Portugal. Of course, Lisbon is also a great place to try the whole Portuguese cuisine.
Tasting local specialties is one of the many reasons to visit Lisbon. We’ve put together a list of classic Lisbon foods.
- Grilled fish (especially grilled sardines)
- Bacalhau (salted cod)
- Bife (steak)
- Pastel de nata (custard tart) accompanied with a bica (espresso coffee)
- Bolo Rei (King Cake during Christmas)
- Ginginha (cherry liquor)
Lisbon’s Specialties and Where to Try Them
We recommend places to eat Lisbon’s traditional food.
Sardines are served everywhere, especially on Saint Anthony’s Day, but these 5 Fish Restaurants in Lisbon usually have fresh sardines on their menus. Expect 4 to 6 grilled sardines served with boiled potatoes, a salad, and often grilled peppers. Season with Portuguese olive oil.
Having been salt cured, cod is extremely versatile, and in Portugal, we have virtually 1001 differents ways to cook it. Lisbon-style bacalhau à Brás is flaked, pan-fried with potato chips, then enveloped in scrambled egg. Pataniscas de bacalhau (cod fritters), usually accompanied with bean rice, is another another popular cod dish served in Lisbon’s restaurants. Here are 7 of the Best Restaurants to Eat Cod in Lisbon.
While a cheap and traditional bitoque (fried steak with french fries, white rice, salad, and a fried egg on top) can be ordered at most restaurants in Lisbon, Café de São Bento, located near the Parliament, specialises in high quality steaks – filet mignon or sirloin steak, served with french fries, and an optional fried egg on top. Here, steaks are served in three different ways: Café de São Bento style comes with a coffee cream sauce, Portuguese style is fried, and finally there’s the conventional grilled steak. To enter the place you have to ring the doorbell.
Pastel de nata
The custard tart is sold in virtually every café in Lisbon, but the original recipe comes from Pastéis de Belém, a patisserie located close to Jerónimos Monastery in the riverside Belém area. Eaten at the counter, or seated in the back if you’re lucky enough to get a table, most locals love a nice pastel de nata powdered with cinnamon and accompanied with a bica (espresso).
Bolo Rei (King Cake) is a ring-shaped fruit bread, covered in crystallized fruit and nuts. It’s Portugal’s most traditional Christmas cake. Sold everywhere during the festive season, the original recipe (and for many the best) comes from Confeitaria Nacional. Not everyone likes the fruit in Bolo Rei, so for those there’s the Bolo Rainha (Queen Cake) – essentially the same cake except that fruits are replaced with nuts.
Ginjinha is a cherry liquor to be tried in a century-old bar on the northwest corner of the Rossio square. Both Ginjinha do Largo de São Domingos and Ginjinha Sem Rival will serve you the liquor in a shot glass “com” or “sem” (with or without) a cherry (your choice). Then, you can savour it (we usually do not shot it down) outside the place. Both bars are tiny and not really spaces where you want to hang out.
A new wave of restaurant owners and chefs are completely transforming the restaurant scene in Lisbon. Here are some of the best you might want check out: